I'm Just Fine and at Peace
This ACIM Blog Post is Written by Rev. Myron Jones
Pathways of Light Prayer Support Dedicated to the practice of applying the ACIM principles of True Prayer. I love being part of this prayer ministry.
There is so much in A Course in Miracles that has been helpful to me.
First and foremost, I have learned to appreciate the power of my thoughts and so I watch them carefully, releasing those that don’t bring me peace.
I’ve learned that I am not a body and not in a body and if that is true for me, it is true for everyone.
Now, when I notice I react to someone’s behavior, I have to laugh at myself.
If there is no one in that body, then who am I reacting to? I go back into my own mind to correct my thinking and let the Holy Spirit heal the belief that the world we experience is real. I am finding it so much easier now to let go of the ego belief that judging an illusion has some value.
Two lessons that I learned have been the most persistent and that is the belief in guilt and the belief in time.
Last year, I released the belief in guilt and that led to a major shift. The ego mind was very stubborn about time, but once I accepted that time is not real and stopped valuing time, I saw how helpful it is to let go of time.
One of the problems I had with this is that I could not imagine how to live in the world without a belief in time, but I kept asking the Holy Spirit to clarify for me what He needed me to understand.
The first thing I learned is that there is no past.
Sure, I had read this and I believed it must be true or it wouldn’t be in the Course, but I could not grasp how it was true.
What helped me with that was the understanding that nothing here is real. I started to notice that memories can be very clear and can elicit a strong emotion that I feel in my body.
For instance, one time my brother told me about an incident he had.
My brother had a very bad temper and was having trouble controlling it but was determined to do so.
The problem is, he tried to make the change behaviorally rather than making a true change of mind.
As I now fully understand, if we don’t change our mind the change in behavior will eventually fail us.
Stuffing his feelings away allowed him to behave differently, but all that anger was causing his blood pressure to rise. His doctor explained this to him but he didn’t believe it until one day at work.
Paul had a disagreement with a fellow worker.
He felt himself becoming angry but he controlled his temper and let it pass.
He was really happy to see that he made that decision and was thinking about it on his way home. But as happens with ego thoughts, he also began to think about how wrong the other guy was and how angry that made him.
He envisioned a different outcome, one in which he beat the snot out of the guy.
He could feel the physical response to those thoughts and happened to glance in his rearview mirror and his face was beet red just as it would get when his blood pressure rose. He saw in that moment that his doctor was right. Stuffing those feelings away was causing his blood pressure to rise.
He needed a better way to handle his anger.
What I learned from my brother’s story is that memories can be as real as the actual incident.
His physical response while thinking about the incident was the same as if it was happening right at that moment.
I began to notice the same thing with my own memories. I noticed that all the emotion of the past incident was happening in my mind when I focused on the memory.
I learned several lessons from this including the lesson that I could forgive (undo) a belief as I was experiencing the manifestation of that belief.
But I could also undo a belief while I was remembering that manifestation. Either way worked equally well because it wasn’t really happening the first time any more than it was happening in the memory. In fact, they were both memories.
So what does this have to do with time and how did it help me?
First, I learned that the past is not real.
It only seems real because we feel the effect of the past memory in our body and that increases the experience of reality as we know it. But that doesn’t hold up when we remember what Jesus said in Chapter 18 of the Text: 4 You are not really "lifted out" of it; it cannot contain you.
Lesson 199 says: 4 The mind can be made free when it no longer sees itself as in a body….
Jesus says it even more clearly when he says that we are not the body, we are not in the body.
So, when my brother had that strong memory and he felt the body response, he was receiving information from an illusion about an illusion.
In T-18.VII.3. At no single instant does the body exist at all. 2 It is always remembered or anticipated, but never experienced just now. 3 Only its past and future make it seem real.
Jesus also tells us that we have placed an ancient memory before our eyes.
And let’s not forget that the eyes are an illusion as well.
We are told that the body’s eyes don’t actually see, they simply report back to us what we want to see. And evidently, what we want to see is the unfolding of a tiny, mad idea that happened long ago and was over in a blink of an eye.
All of these lessons came together for me in a way that allowed me to use a very simple tool. Because I know that this world is an illusion and that I am not an illusion, I can be released from what the body is experiencing by simply deciding to be in the present moment.
Recently, I had to evacuate my home for a month because of a devastating hurricane.
I left everything behind not knowing if it would still be there when I returned. I had to move from place to place and stay with other people in circumstances different than what I am used to. I began receiving information that my home was damaged and I wondered if the insurance would cover the costs and if I would find honest contractors to do the work. After all, everyone else in this area has damage and all of them are looking for contractors.
I could easily have become overwhelmed with all of this and given into anger and frustration and fear. But I’ve learned to see things differently.
I know now that I am not Myron living through a disaster.
I am spirit watching this character navigate the disaster. That space I allow between the dream and the dreamer helps me to gain perspective and to stay in peace. In those moments when I would identify more with the dream figure, I was able to step back by using this simple process of asking myself what was happening right now.
This would bring me back to the present moment, the now moment where there is no body, no ego, no world. Or at least, it would bring me back to the moment I am experiencing through the character, Myron.
In that present moment, nothing is happening that is of concern.
I would rest in that moment and realize that I was fine.
This is what it felt like.
I am sitting in the swing outside the dwelling that has been so generously provided for me. I am feeling the wind blowing and looking around at the beautiful trees and fields.
If my mind strays to the non-existent past and I start to feel the anxiety of memories of past hurricanes, I am upset.
If I let my mind stray to the uncertain future with all its problems to be solved, I am anxious.
But if I return my focus to the present now moment, I remember that this is the only moment that exists and I am at peace and filled with gratitude.
The argument the ego used to justify upset was that there really was a disaster and there really was damage and I had to do something about it.
And that is true, but when I got home and saw the damage, I had a choice.
I could deal with it in fear or I could deal with it in peace.
I chose peace.
As each moment arose, I did what I could do and I was fine as I did it. What I couldn’t do might temporarily upset me and I would feel the anxiety that the body suffers in these kinds of things, but then I would reconsider.
I am not the body and I don’t have to believe in what the body is experiencing.
I could relax and assess.
I had a damaged roof and another hurricane was coming. Yes, I had a tarp over the roof but hurricane winds can blow the tarp off and then I would have more damage. But, right that moment, I had one thing to do and that was to leave, so I did that. And I was fine. And when I returned, the tarp was still there and there was very little additional damage. And in that moment, too, I was fine.
The pattern holds.
No matter what is happening, as long as I don’t visit the non-existent past or the non-existent future in my mind, and as long as I just stay in the present moment, I am fine and at peace. This is the way I use this process all the time.
What has happened because of it is that I stay in the present moment a lot.
But sometimes, I get pulled into a story and when that happens, I am grateful for a simple idea that helps me return to peace. Sometimes, the story hooks me for a bit and I feel emotional and I allow the emotion. I learned well from my brother’s story not to ignore or push down the emotion.
Maybe I will cry for a little while, but allowing the emotion assures it comes and then goes pretty quickly.
Then I return to the present moment which always finds me just fine and at peace.